10,000 Tweets: A Goal That Is Also a Limit

18 Jul

In Outliers, the most recent book published by Malcolm Gladwell, he wrote that expertise, genius even, is skill multiplied by 10,000. That is, a person gets very good at something–software programming, hitting baseballs, writing music, whatever–after simply doing it 10,000 times or, say, for 10,000 hours. For some unknowable reason, Gladwell’s research reveals that 10,000 is the magic number that a person needs to achieve before mastering the task as an expert.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to achieve expertise in Twitter. I have set a goal to tweet 10,000 times.

Then I will quit.

Currently, after more than a year and half using the social networking service, I have sent out 5,842 tweets. Like many Twitter newbies, I did not hit my tweet stride for many months. It took nine months to barely reach 1,000 tweets. Now, according to TweetStats, I’m in the 400 tweets-per-month range, so I should reach my goal of 10,000 sometime next year.

I realize that 10,000 is not such a big number when compared against true Twitter experts like @RayBeckerman (130,000 tweets), @paul_steele (75,000), @mlomb (111,000), @TLW3 (71,000), @SgBz (16,000), @mparent77772 (87,000), and @shefaly (20,000), just a few among the 628 people I currently follow who are well past 10,000 tweets.

But by putting a hard, fast cap on the number of my tweets I am changing my relationship to Twitter. Before this decision, each tweet held the equivalent value of zero to me. I’d post anything and everything that tickled my fancy. I retweeted marginal items because I was in the mood or simply because it was from a new person on Twitter. Now each tweet has value because the supply is no longer inexhaustible.

This does not mean I will eschew back-and-forth banter with @ggSpirit (10,000), @JosephLane (21,000), @VariantVal (56,000), and others. That’s some of the best fun there is to have on Twitter. And I will still retweet, though with a bit more discretion, such as not passing along the popular @badbanana (12,000) tweets, funny as they can be. But I still intend to post new items as they strike my fancy, at least until my finite pile of unused tweets are gone.

I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. It helps me focus. But sometimes the best goals in life are also limits.

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